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The Word Works May-June 2024 Open Reading Period!

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We are now accepting poetry manuscripts of 48-80 pages for our May-June Reading Period at The Word Works! Four to six books are selected for publication in the next two years. Single-author collections, collaborations, prose poetry, hybrid works, etc. are welcome. View our flyer for more information and a link to our submissions manager.

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Poet-Volunteers Are Invited to Submit a Manuscript!

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Deadline: April 30, 2024
Only poets who donate labor to help a literary venture may submit. We publish 2 books per year, and the 2024 judge is Ariel Francisco Henriquez Cos. TO NOMINATE A VOLUNTEER, review the submission details on our flyer and Guidelines page and complete the Hilary Tham Capital Collection Nomination Form.

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March 2024 eLitPak :: Poets Time to Submit Your Manuscript to The Washington Prize

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Deadline: March 15, 2024
Win $1,500 and publication by The Word Works. The contest is open to unpublished English language volumes of original poetry by a living Canadian or American writer at any stage of their career. Winner announced August 1 by series editor Andrea Carter Brown. View flyer to learn more and submit.

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February 2023 eLitPak :: The Washington Prize Call for Entries

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Deadline: March 15, 2023
The Word Works is accepting entries of original volumes of poetry by a living American or Canadian writer for their Washington Prize. Winner receives $1,500 and publication. Visit website and view flyer to learn more.

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Book Review :: All Morning the Crows by Meg Kearney

All the Morning Crows by Meg Kearney book cover image

Guest Post by James Scruton

Every poem in Meg Kearney’s All Morning the Crows has a bird for its title, from the exotic (“Parrot,” “Ibis,” “Ostrich”) to the local (“Oriole,” “Wren,” “Juncos”). Inspired, as Kearney notes in a preface, by Diana Wells’ 2002 book 100 Birds and How They Got Their Names, the collection is equally animated by the tension between the OED definitions of “bird” she offers at the start: not only the general term for any feathered species but also slang for “maiden, girl, a woman.”

The poems take their own flights, harrowing or defiant or tender. In “Albatross,” the speaker recalls the sailor “who approached you / on the beach, spoke to you as if you were / a woman, you in the new bikini / none of the boys back home had noticed.” She is “too flattered to flee, though / the constant surf said Leave, Leave.” “Duckling, Swan” tells the fable in the voice of the once-mocked hatchling, who later returned “aglow with my gleaming” and “blinded them all.” Part elegy, part inquiry into art’s power amidst the flux of living, “Pheasant” gives the collection its title, the bird here etched in cemetery granite, wings stretched and awaiting “a flight that never begins.” By contrast, “All morning the crows / have behaved badly,” the speaker observes, as if a parallel to the poet’s meager words in the face of loss.

By the end of the volume, a kind of narrative emerges that we may take as autobiographical. But the collection has a larger scope as well, testifying to the range of human feeling and to the resilience of the poetic voice itself.


All Morning the Crows by Meg Kearney. The Word Works, April 2021.

Reviewer bio: James Scruton’s most recent chapbook is The Rules (Green Linden Press, 2019).